First Impressions: The Building

What to Look For

  • What is the architectural style of the building? Modern? Traditional? Regional? Mixed (eclectic)?
  • What kinds of materials are used? What impressions do the materials suggest or invoke?
  • What is the “mood” of the building? Warm and comfortable? Light and airy? Institutional? Quiet and hushed? Active and exciting?
  • Is there an apparent theme to the building’s design?
  • Does some aspect of the building make you smile or laugh?
  • Is it easy to understand where to go and what to do?
  • Is there a mystery about the building that encourages you to investigate further?

Why It Matters

Observers draw conclusions, accurate or not, about your church’s values from the style, apparent cost, and condition of your facilities. How important are your history and traditions? Do you have money? Are you unconventional or likely to surprise? Are you laid back or serious? Do you care about appearances? 


When people with no faith tradition consider which church to visit, they don’t care how traditional or contemporary the building is. Most discussions of style and tradition are for the benefit of persons who have some sort of church background, or come from a culture that has historically valued religious institutions. (North American Mission Board, SBC. “Where Should A New Church Meet?” Ed Setzer, Center for Missional Research. May 28, 2007. (

Room x Room posts are brief examinations of the nature, purpose and potential of typical spaces used in ministry. Our intent is to help users see and consider how each component contributes to (or hinders) the ministry it serves.